Sunday, September 20, 2009

Golightly trips to the mall and what does she see?

I’d burned through my stash of premium scented candles and decided to trip to the local upscale mall. Off to Anthropologie I go to score a few good candles in the back 40 of the store also known as the saleroom. Illume’s Yuzu Mint fragrance gets a big thumbs up and also I bought Sweet Rhubarb. They were $20 but I pay $9.75. That’s $4.75 above my Flinch Point but, hey, this is my one simple luxury. Well, it’s more than a luxury. It’s piece of mind. We have three cats and I am forever in fear that visitors can smell the litter box. The candles come in handy. The other day, I almost didn’t clip any fresh basil because I’d feared the worst. But no, it was just a pungent basil odor, nothing more. I’m not shy about my fears either and will often interrupt good friends to ask, “Do you smell cat pee? You’d tell the truth wouldn’t you?” I’m a bit flakey that way and my friends are used to it.

As I walk out of Anthroplogie I see SALE posted in five-foot tall letters in some garish color over at Urban Outfitters, a younger cousin to Anthropologie. Sale is one of my favorite words, so I’m game. In the kitchenware section I spot something that instantly flashes me back to a comment from Saver Queen from the August 27th post Faux is Foe!

“I also notice styles from antiques or vintage house wares being recreated. I recently noticed a bunch of kitchen products being sold in stores and advertised in magazines that have the "hobnail" look. I wonder why anyone would by modern hobnail items when this style can be found on vintage items that are easily gathered from garage sales or thrift store. For example, hobnail milk glass vases are a dime a dozen.”

Saver Queen is right! But what I saw reproduced at Urban Outfitters made me laugh. I cannot count how many times I seen this covered dish made in the shape of a nut with a squirrel sitting on the lid in thrift stores. It’s usually marked at $2.99 and does not fly off the shelves. So, technically one could wait for a 50% off Saturday and buy it for $1.49. The buyers at Urban Outfitters have a different approach; they are promoting a remake of this head-scratcher of a classic for $18. Don’t believe me? Click Here. If you don't see it on that page to back or forward a page. They keep moving it.

As an aside, on my way out of the mall, I spied a new boutique that caters to uninformed Francophiles. A quick look-see raised my eyebrows to find items I’d seen on the shelves of Goodwill just that week. This shop was selling a certain item at a 500% mark up. Who knew? Thrift shoppers that’s who! All other customers are unsuspecting and are paying heavily for their lack of awareness.

What a strange retail world we shop in.

Oops! I almost forgot. You know how you see all these wonderful candles in Anthropologie alight and resting in a glass container atop sand, birdseed or acorn tops?You can find those containers at thrift stores for $0.99. Or you can pay huge mark ups else ware. Tough choice, but someone's gotta make it.
So, say I bought the original at the thrift store on a 50% off Saturday, which run frequently. I could pick the original for about 8% the cost of the remake. Funny, I always thought originals were worth more than remakes.


alanna rose said...

The acorn/squirrel dish is cracking me up. My sorority mascot was a squirrel, and our house was teeming with those dishes - no one could pass them up at the local St. Vinnie's.

Saver Queen said...

Thanks so much for mentioning me in this post! :) Urban Outfitters is a perfect example of stores that sell remakes of vintage items at ridiculous costs. Sometimes the items have kitsch appeal, and other times they just look like junk. Either way, I find that thrift store shopping puts more control in the buyer to decide what is interesting and what adds an eclectic touch to a home, and what is just well, ugly. It's like you wrote in "standing naked in the thrift store" - thrift store shopping requires creativity. We need to think about the items we want and imagine what they would look like if they were washed, repaired, repurposed. Retail stores eliminates this need for creativity. They tell us "it's kitschy-chic. Just trust us."

I scooped up a little hand-painted bird-shaped salt shaker from the thrift store last week during a 50% off sale. It's not in perfect condition, but I think it is antique japanese porcelain. It is really cute and fits with my japanese collection of antiques. I feel proud of it because I noticed its uniqueness, recognized that bird-shapes are representative of a certain time period, and also knew enough to turn it over to see where it's made. Discovering and repurposing authentic vintage items yourself adds a much more personal and unique touch than buying mass-produced copycats. The items you dig out and display say something about you and your own inventiveness!

Amanda said...

I have one of those squirrel dishes! I bought it for like 75 cents because it was half off at my local thrift store. I use it to store keys by the front door (isn't he cute? )

I don't understand why companies keep trying to remake old things exactly the way it used to be when thrift stores are teaming with those items. Why not at least make it a different color or something?

C Robb said...

Careful with those scented candles. They can seriously adversely impact indoor air quality and pose not insignificant health risks. Check out these links for studies and suggestions on the subject.

What about the odour of cat pee? I did a search for studies linking cat boxes with increased health risk. I found these;

librarinan said...

Just the opposite sometimes happens -- the thrift shop has an item for $2.99 that you can buy in Dollar Tree for, well, $1.00. For example, a small candle on a colored glass dish, shaped like a star or flower or whatever, nicely boxed.
I know if I went to Anthropologie or UO, I would be walking around in amazement that anyone in their right mind would pay that much money.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is, UO & Anthropologie carry so much of that stuff (reproductions, cheap glass candle holders, etc) because they sell a lot of it and people will pay it. It's not a one-off crazy idea that fails, it's a genuine marketing strategy that works. The idea of it totally bums me out.

Reneesance said...

A sister salvagista at Vintage Rescue Squad recently had a post about the newest pottery barn catalog which is full of Faux Flea tchotckes at HUGE markups this season. *Sigh*

Elizabeth B said...

I know this crowd will appreciate my amazing wonderful glorious find at Goodwill. I found Haviland Limoges cups and saucers for 99 cents a pop. After some research online, I can definitively say that they're more than 100 years old. I only bought one because I don't have room to store piles of them, but OMIGOD. I may go back for the rest, but probably won't. They're not in the best of shape, anyway.


The Prudent Homemaker said...

I have NEVER seen those glass candle chimneys at the thrift store. You seem to have nicer stuff where you are.

Our Goodwill is very, very small and pretty empty.

I get more at another thrift store in town, but even there, the glassware is pretty slim picking.

I'll keep trying, though! I would love to find some glass chimneys! I've always held off on buying them because they are so ridiculously expensive.

I'm not a big candle person and we prefer unscented candles here when we use them, but for holiday decorating, it would be nice to use some chimneys.

Super Amazing Savings said...

I really love, love, love candles. I think if you're going to have an indulgence then candles are a good choice. Although I can't remember the last time I splurged on a "high end" one.

Babs said...

Prudent Homemaker -- I just bought 2 of those candle chimneys at Dollar Tree for 1 buck each. They had a variety of sizes.